Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

They Will Know We Are Christians By Our _______?

"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 ESV
"We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." 1 John 3:14 ESV

   What are some reasons that Christians do not manifest love for one another? I thought about this today, and came up with two reasons. One is simply that some professing Christians are not true believers. They are false converts. Of course, it is hard to look at a person that lacks love and say that they aren't true believers without having more info. But it is possible reason.
  The other reason is due to the fact that we all have indwelling sin, even after coming to Christ. When a person truly repents and trusts in Jesus' blood to cleanse from sin, that person is born again by God and becomes a new creature in Christ. Not only is that person's sin completely forgiven, but the person is now beginning to live a new life in a new way, with a new Power to enable him or her to overcome sin. This process is called 'sanctification'. True converts will go through this process the rest of their earthly lives.
  The difficulty with our understanding of this, is that sometimes people assume that when a person comes to Christ, and receives forgiveness of sins, that the person will never sin again. But the new convert now has two natures that are opposed to each other. One natures loves sin and the new nature cannot sin. Can you see why there is a struggle? 
   As we grow in our sanctification, we are able to let go of sin's hold on us. Little by little we experience more and more freedom from the snares of sin. We experience more of the freedom of Christ. Sometimes, we have spiritual growth spurts in which we grow tremendously during certain periods and we do well, our faith grows, and we grow closer to God. But, other times, we grow more slowly. Sometimes, seem to go through periods in which we seem stagnant. But be assured, even though we don't see anything happening, God is still at work. God promises to complete the good work that He begins in us.
   It is during this process of sanctification that we develop good qualities and spiritual growth, and at the same time, we see sin more and more and can leave it go, but this takes time. We have indwelling sin which we will never see until we grow. I think of when I came to Christ, and truly repented of my sins, yet, I can see things I did, believed, and practiced that would horrify me today. I didn't see all my sins the moment I was born again. Over time, we become more and more like Christ, and less and less like the world.
   As far as the love of God being manifest in our lives, this could take time. On the one hand, we have experienced God's love when we came to Christ and when we came to know Him personally. The seed of love is already there. But as we look at the church today, we don't see much of the love of God. We don't necessarily see Christians 'loving one another'. One reason already covered is because not everyone who claims to be a Christian is truly a believer. He or she probably doesn't understand the Gospel in its entirety, or has chosen to believe in another Gospel. This person has not seen God yet. But if he or she really does know God, that person has not seen the dimension of God's love at this point in his or her live yet. It is part of his or her immaturity in the Christian life (not immaturity like being a jerk! Just like a baby doesn't know what adults know, he or she will learn over time). 
   Jesus commands us to love one another. He also commands us to love our enemies. The great commandment, the Royal Law, is to 'love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.' God gives us the ability to know Him and to love Him by the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling in us. This is what the world will see that will help them to know that we are true believers in Jesus Christ. This is the mark of Christianity. 
   I am not going to go into an indepth definition of what love is, but, I will say that the term 'love' has a different connotation in America today, than it does in the Bible. We understand love as a serve-serving mechanism that makes us happy. When we love, we are the recipients of what that love produces. It's what makes us happy. For example, we love ice-cream. We love Chinese food. These are things we enjoy, but really, we don't actually love them. We take this definition of love into our understanding of God. We think we love God and God loves us, so that means that God ultimately makes us happy. But that is not what love actually is. We may or may not enjoy the objects of our love, but that is not the reason we love those things. Love involves sacrifice. It looks out for what is best for the object of our love even at our own expense. It's goal is not to benefit the giver of love, but the recipient of that love. It is God's nature, for the Bible tells us 'God is love'. Anyone who has been born again has experienced and received God's love, and now, because of the new heart, the born again person will be giving this love to others. Remember, only the person who has a new heart can have this kind of love. Our old hearts can never receive this love, let alone share it with others. 
   If we want the world to see God in us, the world will only see Him if we love one another. That's why the Bible talks a lot about love. If we love one another, and others around us, we can communicate God to other people. It will open up the door to speak the words of life to others. It will help them to see what God is really like, at least in this one important aspect. This is something for us to aspire to.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Is God Anti-Gay?

   Is God anti-Gay? I saw this as the title of a book and was intrigued by the question. To be fair in answering this question, you will have to ask a variety of other questions. One way to look at this is, God is anti-sin, and being Gay is a sin, so therefore God is anti-Gay. But the answer is more complex than that.
  For example, if a legalist were to ask that question, he would look for a certain answer, but the answer he is looking for would exclude other possibilities. His motive would be to use the status of the Gay person in comparison with his own standard (which he thinks he has reached). He would say that God is anti-Gay primarily because he is not Gay, and his conclusion would make him look more righteous. But let’s make this question a little broader.
   Is God only ‘anti-Gay’ or is He anti anything else, and if so, what else is He against? God is set against sin, whatever that sin might be. The Gay person will face God on Judgment Day, but, so will everyone else who sins. Being Gay is not the only sin, and if we made a list of things that are considered sinful, the list would be endless and we all would have several things from that list that are in our own lives.
  The whole crux of the answer to this problem comes from a misunderstanding of the nature of sin. Is sin what we do, or is sin what we are? Can we control our sinful desires or are we under their control? If we are under the control of sin, is there any hope for freedom from sin?
  Some Christians believe people can turn sin on or off at will. These are the people who hold up signs saying ‘Repent, stop sinning’. They believe that every human being does not ever have to sin. If you take this belief further, it comes from the belief that human beings are not born with a sinful nature. The sinful nature is called, ‘Inherent sin’. Sin comes from sinful hearts, which are the results of the fall of mankind as recorded in Genesis 3. Since the time Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, every person has been born with a heart that is inclined to sin. People cannot stop sinning, but, because of Jesus’ death, now human beings can have power over sin in their lives. When a person turns from his sins, and trusts in the death of Jesus Christ, he  receives power to ‘say no to sin’ and to ‘say yes to righteousness’. What happens after salvation is called the process of sanctification. People are going to slip and fall, but, God will help them up again, and they will continue on their journey in sanctification. If we think sin is something we can turn on or off at will, we are sadly mistaken and will lead many into a wrong understanding of their Christian experience.
   Yes, we are born with sinful hearts. Gay or straight, we are all sinful, with all kinds of varieties of sins that need to be dealt with. So to answer the question fairly and objectively, yes, God is anti-Gay. There’s more though. God is anti-porn, God is anti-hate, God is anti-laziness, God is anti-irresponsiblity, God is anti-selfishness, God is anti-angry, God is anti-greedy, God is anti-promiscuis, God is anti-prideful, God is anti-prejudicial, God is anti-filthy language, and so on. That is the bad news. We are all in danger before God. No one is exempt.
   So, if that is true, God is anti-you and anti-me. Where is the hope then? Can we pull ourselves up by our boot straps and quit sinning so God will not be opposed to us? The Bible says that God showed His love for us in that even while we were still sinners, He sent His Son to die and take the punishment for our sins. God can forgive Gay people. God can forgive liars. Not only can God forgive them, but God will give them new life. Those who turn from their sins and trust in Christ will receive a new heart with new desires. They will receive power to break off from sin. The best news is, God will not be anti-them anymore. God and the sinner will be reconciled. For more information on this go to http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What Happened To The Standard and Where Did Our Consciences Go?

      I am amazed at how people today don't seem to have a conscience. Has it always been this way? Where did the consciences go? Can they ever be recovered? Can people truly be saved today, if the conscience is weak or missing?
   When I was growing up, the general public seemed to know the difference between right and wrong. Bad behavior was dealt with. One time, I was even accused of doing something wrong, (which I didn't do), and I was sent to the principal's office and almost got a spank! I am not sure that principals should be spanking kids, but you have to appreciate the fact that there was a standard of right and wrong.
  Today, we seem to be spinning our wheels in trying to communicate the Gospel when it comes to certain groups. I think about my many friends who go out to abortion clinics to reason with women there about abortion. They will point out to the mom who doesn't want her baby, that these 'doctors' are going to be murdering their babies. Occasionally, the mom will change her mind and will not go through with the abortion. But many times, they go on and have an abortion. Now, the sin of committing abortions is abominable. It is murder. God will deal with these moms and 'doctors' about their murders that they are committing. But could there be a deeper sin we are dealing with here?
   Although abortion is a terrible sin that has terrible ramifications, it is also a symptom of something much deeper that is wrong. What could be deeper than this? What could be the root of this sin?
   There are a lot of possibilities, but, let's take one particular sin that people assume is ok today. The Bible has a lot to say about immorality, and the misuse of sex, and also having sexual relationships outside of marriage. Whether we want to believe it or not, we don't own our own bodies. We do not have certain 'rights' to ourselves that have been given to us. Everything we can use for our benefit is listed in the Bible. Outside of those parameters, there is no permission to go beyond them.
  Having sexual relationships outside of marriage is not acceptable in God's eyes. God gave the command to reproduce to Adam and Eve, along with the animals, and the desire for sexual relationships is strong. But God also desires and plans for people to marry and to use this gift inside of the marriage relationship. So, what is the problem we are having today and why do we have this problem?
  I believe part of this problem is due to the fact that we have taken God out of our public school system. We are not allowed to have the 10 Commandments posted in schools any more. Years ago, people were familiar with the 10 Commandments. They knew that there was a standard of right and wrong. But, today, we don't see that. We can understand that murder is wrong, because it really hurts a family when someone is murdered. Someone's life is gone. But we don't see that with other sins like 'committing adultery' or 'coveting'. If we have sex outside of marriage, we think no one will be hurt. It won't make any difference. It might. It might not. But even if there is no visual damage, God knows and we will give account of it before Him one day.
  I believe we don't fear God any more. Many murders go unsolved. Things get stolen every day, and the thief doesn't get caught. Many people don't even know that it is wrong to have sex outside of marriage. We think we are not hurting anyone. But, what about the unwanted pregnancy? A person will die because someone thought that no one would get hurt if he has sex with that lovely woman. Someone did get hurt. Children die every day because a teenage girl gets pregnant. Mom drags her off to the abortion clinic with her face set like a flint. At this point, there is no reasoning with this mom about what she is doing to her grandchild. She just doesn't want another face to feed. She wants to keep her life simple and convenient. She doesn't fear God.
   Mom, are you concerned? How about praying for your daughter instead of taking her to an abortion clinic? Does your daughter even know God? Are you concerned where she will spend eternity? God never promised anyone an easy life, and if we expect our lives to go smoothly and without difficulties, we are going to be surprised and disappointed. If we respond to life's challenges by taking the easy way out, we are not following God. We are believing in another god, so to speak. We are believing in the god of convenience.
  We don't have consciences anymore because we don't know that there is a holy God that we will give an account to One Day. We don't have consciences anymore because we really don't know the difference between right and wrong. We don't know what God's standard is, because we have taken it down. You will learn all kinds of philosophies in the public school system, but you will not learn about God, and you will not learn about His standards. Where there was right and wrong in the past, it is no longer there today.
  What can we do? We can pray. We can learn and teach the 10 Commandments. We can pray for trespassers to be caught when they break the law. We aren't praying for them so that we can be vengeful or hateful toward them, but they must be caught in order for them to learn the fear of God. We can teach those in our churches about right and wrong. We can take a stand in society for right and wrong, and we can take a stand against injustices wherever they are done.
   I have heard it said that all it takes for wrong to prevail, is for good men to do nothing. That is exactly what has happened in America. In the 1970s, no one challenged Madeline Murray O'Hare when she created laws to get the 10 Commandments and prayer out of the schools. That is where, I believe, we went wrong. Professing Christians couldn't be bothered with taking this issue to court. The ball was still in our courts, so to speak, at that time but the ball has been intercepted by the Enemy of our souls. Plus, the boundaries have been redefined. Satan has taken a foothold that we gave him, by not protecting what belonged to us. Now we have to take that land back, and it is a lot of work.
   You might think that your sin isn't hurting anyone, but think again. Our country is in the place it is now because people wanted to do their own thing instead of what God wanted them to do. Today, many have no clue what the 10 Commandments are. Some have never been in a church building. Some are ensnared in cults. Some are trapped in the sex slave trade. Others are victims of Satanic Ritual Abuse. Some are addicted to cocaine because they were lied to and believed that using cocaine wouldn't hurt anyone. They didn't realize they would have to live a life of crime every day in order to get the money to pay for the habit. They didn't realize how many people they would have to rob in order to get money. They didn't see how they were making a person very rich, and giving him control and power because they are now slaves to cocaine and have to provide money to pay for the drug if they want to continue using it.
   So, perhaps if we pray for God to restore our consciences, maybe we will have a country made up of God-fearing people. I don't know. But, if we don't, we will go spiraling down as a nation, as we continue to live our lives as if God doesn't exist. It is our responsibility to bring a change for this. What are we going to do about it?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Hamster Song and How We Are Like Hamsters

   Many years ago, I used to have lots of hamsters. Each one had a name and was special to me. I got to pick most of them out at the store. The scene was so familiar. "I want the gold and white one there" was commonly heard. Then the glove came on and pursued the cute little furry thing that was about to become mine. But the hamster was taken off guard. When he saw the glove coming, he would try as hard as he could to flee the aquarium, only to run into a glass wall no matter which way he turned. The hamsters were so wiggly that many times they were able to escape the glove. But, no fear, the clerk would try again and finally get a grasp on the animal that he wasn't able to get out of.
   We are like hamsters too. God begins to pursue us and what do we do? We try to get away! Of course, we cannot escape from God because He is everywhere. Why is it that we want to get away from God? Why is there hostility to the One who created us?
   The Bible tells us that we are enemies of God. We are enemies of God because God is holy and perfect, and we are sinful and want to continue living sinfully. Living sinfully really boils down to wanting to live selfishly. The options are, we either live for God, or, we live for ourselves. We have an Enemy of our souls who would like us to believe that sin is good for us, and that we should love ourselves more than anything else. He also would like for us to believe that we have to love ourselves before we can love other people. The truth is, we do love ourselves. We love ourselves more than anything else. The devil will also want us to believe that God is not good. The Enemy of our souls wants us to think that God wants to take our fun away and make us miserable. That's why we don't trust God, and we run away from Him, much like the hamster runs away from the gloved hand that wants to capture him and place him in a home with people who will take care of him.
   I think of a story in the book, 'The Cross and the Switchblade' where David Wilkerson goes to New York City to try to reach the gangsters with the Gospel message. David preaches on a street in Brooklyn one day, and challenges the gang leaders to shake his hand. Some of the gang leaders came down and told David that his message was getting through to them. "You really bug me' was their way of saying that the message was reaching their hearts. Israel, the leader of the Mau Mau gang came down. He appreciated David's message and David explained that he was going to preach in an auditorium soon. Israel wanted to go, but a bus would have to be hired to bring the Mau Mau gang to the auditorium. Another leader in the Mau Maus was Nicky Cruz. Nicky suspected that David came to New York to break up the gangs. He would call David names and wanted to kill him. Here is how the first conversation went between Nicky and David:
David: "How do you do, Nicky?"
Nicky: "Go to hell, Preacher."
David: "You don't think much of me Nicky, but I feel differently about you. I love you Nicky."
Nicky: "You come near me Preacher, and I'll kill you" (Nicky recalls this event and says that he really meant it too).
David: "You could do that. You could cut me in a thousand pieces and lay them out in the street, and, every piece would love you."
  The night came for the Mau Maus to visit St. Nicholas Arena where Davie, as they affectionately called him, would be preaching. There was the usual laughing, mocking, and other sorts of distractions in the audience. Much of it was instigated by Nicky this time. But God calmed Nicky down and he was able to listen to the words spoken by David. Nicky was no longer running away from God by the end of the meeting. In fact, this was the night he came to Christ. God took a man who was trying to wriggle his way out of God's grasp, and calmed him down enough for him to hear the words of life and saved him.
   Look at the words to this song by Tenth Avenue North. It describes us as not cooperating with God when He is reaching out to us. But God is faithful, and we can trust Him.
"By Your Side"

Why are you striving these days
Why are you trying to earn grace
Why are you crying
Let me lift up your face
Just don't turn away 

Why are you looking for love
Why are you still searching
As if I'm not enough
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run
To where will you run

'Cause I'll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don't fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Look at these hands at my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world's sin
So I could carry you in
And give you life 
I want to give you life

And I'll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don't fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Here at my side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don't fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you 

'Cause I, I love you
I want you to know
That I, yeah I'll love you
I'll never let you go, no, no

And I'll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don't fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Here at my side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don't fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you 
Here at my side, my hands are holding you

Monday, February 10, 2014

God is in Every Place, at All Times, and Always Has Been There

   There are many things about God that are incomprehensible. One of them is that God does not have a birthday. He never had a beginning. There was no time in eternity past where God wasn't there. If you could pinpoint a time, He was before that time.
   Another thought came to my mind today and it is this; There is no place where God does not exist. The thought elaborated into this; There is no place inside the Universe, or outside the Universe where God's presence is not there. In other words, God is found everywhere inside this Universe as well as outside of it. If the Universe were shaped like a box, where does it end? Wherever that point is, God exists beyond that point. Is your mind blown yet?
    So, we can put it like this; There is no place inside the Universe or outside the Universe where God does not exist. How about that for the thought for the day?

God is bigger than the Universe, yet He knows how many
hairs you have on your head!
How about this one; God knows the future. He knows in detail everything that will happen. Not only does He remember the things that happened years ago, but He knows what will happen in the rest of eternity. Have you turned from your sin and trusted in Him yet?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

How To Protect Our Children Spiritually

   I don't know the exact blog I should put this on, but I will start here. It starts with a concern about assumptions made about our children that aren't based on the big picture.
   Before I start this blog, I want my readers to know that I believe wholeheartedly in home-schooling, or home-education, but this article is not a ploy to make people feel guilty if they are not home-schooling. Home-schooling is a good method to use to prepare our children spiritually for the world. But it is one method that has worked well for many. You may not be homeschooling, and perhaps you don't want to do so. Pay attention though to what I am saying, regardless of whether you homeschool or not.
   I am writing to parents who have trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior and who are in living and growing in God's kingdom.
   The issue at hand has come up in the battle for parents who have chosen to homeschool, primarily. The argument goes like this; "You are sheltering your child." Or, "You are too overprotective." Or, and here is the one which concerns me, "Your child needs to be out in the world, being a light to others."
   Yes, if you are a Christian and are raising your children to fear God, there will come a time when your child, if he or she responds to the Gospel properly, will need to be out in the world, being a beacon for the kingdom of God. Your child should represent God well. But it won't happen in the first grade (there are possible exceptions that I won't cover at this time). It won't happen in the second or third grades either. What is the reason for this?
   Your child needs training, teaching, equipping, nurturing, and a host of other things while he or she is young. If your child is in a public or private school, away from home, you still have the privilege to do these things with him or her. If your child is at home, it is much easier to work with your child in these areas.
   I was not homeschooled, but I learned a lot from my parents, because they spent a lot of time teaching me things. They took us places and spent time with us. I probably learned more from them than I did from my teachers! Part of that was probably due to the fact that I was sick a lot and at home, but, even more so, it was probably due to the fact that while in school I was in a harsh environment, and no one could walk me through it. I had to fight for myself and I didn't know how to do that or even to know how to respond to that. I wasn't equipped to do any spiritual battles that I was facing while at school every day. I didn't even know I was in a spiritual battle. Eventually, I didn't learn anything while I was at school because I had to spend so much time protecting myself and fighting battles that I wasn't ready for.
   Our children don't know they are in a spiritual battle either. It is a battle for their souls. How will a young child respond when a teacher is picking on him or her? What would God have your child do in response to getting beat up, either physically or with words spoken by others? Are you ready to help your child respond Biblically in these situations that will come to him or her while in the school or when he or she is involved in activities outside of the home? Is your child ready to process a teacher who is Gay or who is living with a person outside of a marriage relationship? How will your child handle threats to his or her life that could possibly come during any year of school? Will your child be able to process tragedies that happen in other families, seeing situations like that with Biblical eyes?
  Whether your child is away from home during the day or at home, parents need to be equipping them for the real world. Before long, they will be out in the real world. Will they interpret the things going on around them Biblically, and are they ready to respond in a God honoring way, or will they see those things as normal and right, and end up belonging to the world?
   Our job is to help our children learn to separate light from darkness, truth from error, right from wrong, and good from evil. We do this by teaching them and spending time with them, not by sending them to Sunday School hoping they will 'get it' one day. God gives parents the responsibility of teaching and training their children. Children do not learn by being thrown into difficult situations and trying to figure their way out. Most are not ready to 'fight their own battles' yet. As they watch us fight the battles in our daily lives, they will learn how to fight for themselves. It doesn't just come automatically because we are Christians.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Deaths And Resurrections of Dreams and Desires

   We were talking about the death of a dream, that seems to common to us. It happens to all who have put their trust in Jesus as Savior/Lord.
   Abraham is a good example of this scenario. God tells him that he will have more children than the stars he can count. Abraham is getting on in years, and his wife is past the child-bearing years, and they are childless. Abraham believed God, but as time went on, Abraham had a different interpretation of what God's promise to him meant, so, with his wife's permission, he takes the servant girl and gets her pregnant. Surely, this will be God's plan for their having a child. But years later, Sarah was an old lady, and lo and behold, she got pregnant! She had her baby boy, and as this boy was growing up, God told Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice. He must have thought to himself, 'we got over one hurdle, now we need to get over this one'. Abraham obeyed God because he trusted God, and he went to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. A ram appeared in a bush, and Abraham was able to use that instead of his son for the sacrifice. So, the second hurdle was overcome and as the story continues, Isaac grows up, marries, has twins, who in turn grow up and have children, and more children are born to these children. God kept His promise.
   I have seen this trait over the years. I have seen people who were serving the Lord, who lost something important and were made to 'sit on the bench' for a while. Singers lost their voices. Preachers lost their voices. Ministries that got started end. But, this is never the end of the story (unless these things happened as a result of sin and God's chastening).
  I was thinking upon my own life tonight, and when that happened to me. I am not young anymore. When I was around 17, I had an insatiable desire to do evangelism. We didn't really learn how to do this, nor was there any encouragement from others to do this kind of work. But I continued, in faith, to learn how to do this and put it into practice.
  One obstacle I had, was that I couldn't talk. So, I basically limited my vision of doing evangelism to giving out tracts. One other thing I got involved in was Child Evangelism. It was great and I learned a lot, but I still knew that there was more out there when it came to doing evangelism.
   We moved to Winter Haven, and I was going to start my own Bible clubs since I wasn't with CEF at the time. God seemed to be speaking to my heart that there would be no clubs. Not sure what that was all about, but no one responded to the invitations that I sent out. Even the lady who wanted to work with me in the Bible clubs backed out. Why was God closing this door?
   I didn't receive an answer to my question at the time, but, we were moving back to Orlando and I wanted still to pursue some type of evangelism activity. I prayed in my heart about what I thought God put on my heart. The answer I seemed to receive was one word: 'wait'. I sensed this a couple of times. I am not good at waiting and wondered why I couldn't do what I was called to do, at least at that time.
   We were on our way to Orlando one evening, and it was going to be our last trip from there to Orlando to go to the 'Rock House' on Tuesday nights. On our way there, I saw a rainbow in the sky. No, I think I saw two rainbows. That was when I realized that I was going to have to 'wait'.
   How long would I have to wait? The Bible talks about waiting on the Lord. This was a new concept for me. It wasn't long until I understood the reason why I would have to wait.....
   Nine months later, I gave birth to a little girl. Then almost three years later, I gave birth to another little girl. This happened a couple more times, but the last one was a boy. During this period of time, I rarely thought about evangelism, at least on the outside of the house.
  I learned how to homeschool four children. It took a lot of dedication on my part to learn. I learned a lot of new things when I was teaching them, and have gotten into learning mode for the rest of my life. Although I did not do anything with evangelism, I went to any classes on evangelism that were available. There was very little desire in my heart to even do this at this point.
   Many years later, I found myself in a class that taught evangelism through videos called, 'The Way of the Master'. At first, it seemed like it was going to be just like the other classes, except a different format. But something was different this time. I had an 11 year old son, who caught on to evangelism, and he wanted to go out and evangelize. Could this really be happening to me? Where did this come from? So, eventually my son and I went out to evangelize with the group from our church. I still couldn't talk right, so, my son was good at starting conversations (where I was weak), but he would leave the conversations and go onto another person to talk to. That left me talking to the first person he was talking to. I shadowed the evangelism leader to learn from him. Still, I had a hard time talking to people about the Gospel.
     I don't know if it was a learning disability or something wrong with my voice, but again, all I believed I was going to be able to do was to give out tracts. That was as good as it was going to get for me. But wait. I prayed about the ability to talk and share the Gospel. It took many, many prayers, but God answered them. Now I have the ability to talk, and minister to people. It was like a miracle because I couldn't change it for anything. I guess I had to be desperate enough for God to change me so I could do this work that was on my heart since I was 17.

Are You God's Captive Audience?

  As I was reading this morning, the words 'Paul, a prisoner for Jesus Christ...' caught my attention. At first, I was thinking of prisoner as more like a slave. Paul makes references to himself as a slave or servant of Jesus Christ. Later I realized that Paul was a literal prisoner for the Lord. 
   The word 'prisoner' relates to a person who is being held captive. There are many ways we can be held captive. We can be in a literal prison and be held captive. We can be kidnapped or we can be taken hostage and will be held captive. 
   Have you ever heard the phrase 'a captive audience'. It means that the audience is paying attention to the performer or host. The meaning of the word 'captive' seems to have the connotation of being spellbound, or amazed. 
   Paul, David, Peter, Moses, Isaiah, and others were 'captivated' by God. God captured their attention, then captured their hearts. They became servants of God, or, as Paul refers to himself, a slave or bondservant. They were held captive by God, but their captivity brought them freedom instead of bondage. 
   So, here are my thoughts on being captivated by God, and being a prisoner for God:

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— Ephesians 3:1
A definition of the word 'prisoner' from the Free Online Dictionary is 'A person held in custody, captivity, or a condition of forcible restraint, especially while on trial or serving a prison sentence.'
   The focus I am looking at is the word 'captive'. To be captive of something means, 'one held in a grip of a strong emotion or passion.' (also from the Free Online Dictionary.
      Prisoner has the connotation of slave. Here is one definition of the word slave:
One who is abjectly subservient to a specified person or influence:
Paul was a prisoner because he was being punished by the authorities, but he also called himself a slave. He was one who was captivated by God and willingly identified himself as a slave of Jesus Christ. 
   What captivates us? Is it a magician doing magic tricks? Maybe some musicians performing a concert? Maybe it is something bad like a threat from another person in order to obey that person's wishes. It just might be everyday life that captivates us. We wake up, do our jobs, and go to bed, and do the same the next day. Those are the things we live for. 
   We live for those things we are captivated by. They not only capture our attention, but they also steal our affection. I think the average American person living in the city is captivated by everyday life. We wake up and plan out our day in our minds. Then we set out to follow our agenda, and finally we get ready for bed. We accomplished (or didn't accomplish) our goals for that day and will get ready for the next day so we can do it all over again.
   But what if there is something that is really worth focusing on? Paul knew what it was. Peter knew what it was (see Luke 5). Isaiah saw it (Isaiah 6). Moses and David knew what it was. When they encountered it, they were never the same. 
   I think in our Christian walk, and maybe this is specific to America today, I'm not sure, we spend a lot of time organizing our thoughts and making shortcuts for the jobs we need to do throughout the day. I wonder if we are shortchanging ourselves when it comes to being captivated by God. We take this same activity and put it into the spiritual realm. We make sure we squeeze our prayer time somewhere in our morning. We do the same with studying Scriptures and Bible reading. It's like we are doing these things to get our spiritual vitamins for the day, and once its done, we can go on with real life. 
   What if we could have everything done around us, then take an hour or two just to spend time waiting on God? What if we could just wait on Him without having continual thoughts of what we have to do next? Could it be that God just might reveal Himself to us in a way we haven't seen or experienced before? 
   I know this takes a change of thinking in our minds. When I make blog posts like this one, I am writing them to myself as well as to others. I struggle with trying to get 10 things done at the same time, all day long. For me to try to have undistracted, undivided time with God almost sounds foreign. But I think this is where our understanding of our relationship with God needs to begin.
    I think about those in the Old Testament and New Testament who were sold out to God. They weren't sold out because they were afraid of going to hell. They were sold out because they 'saw' God with their spiritual eyes and were captivated by Him. God was no longer an idea or concept. He is a real being who wants us to know Him. But He is Spirit. We are flesh, but we have spirits too. When we are born again, our spirits come alive. We have spiritual eyes we can now see with and spiritual ears to hear God's voice with. When we read His word, He activates His word in our hearts and as we respond to Him, faith grows, and we develop spiritually. We are forever changed. Nothing can undo the work of God. But how do we get captivated by Him? His word tells us what He is like. When God no longer becomes a formula for escaping hell, when we realize His love for us, and when we know Him personally, we will be captivated by Him. We will willingly be His slaves. We will willingly be His prisoners, so to speak.
    The reason we were created was to be God worshipers. But we have traded our object of worship for another object of worship. We live for ourselves instead of for God. We serve ourselves instead of God. We are more captivated with ourselves and ways to improve our statuses than we are with God. When we get a picture of who God is, we will be captivated with Him instead of ourselves. We will be able to say, along with Peter, Paul, Isaiah, David, Moses and others that we are undone. Both Peter and Isaiah recognized their sinful condition when they 'saw' God. Peter told Jesus to go away from him, for he (Peter) was a sinful man. Moses begged God to  be able to see God's glory. Isaiah was undone while in God's presence. David was continually describing God's attributes and praising Him for them. We can do the same. The same God who visited them will visit us if we wait on Him and want to get to know Him more. We will be undone and will be able to see the splendor and glory of God too. When that happens, we will be captivated by Him, and will be His slaves, like Paul. When we realize God's bigness and our smallness, we will be captivated. We will be prisoners for God, but will be prisoners who are free from sin and its hold. This will give us the motivation to be sold out to God, totally and completely.

      "He who the Son sets free, is free indeed'. John 8:32

           “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin
             is a slave
 to sin..." Every person is either a slave to
          God or a slave to sin. There is no middle ground.

 * All verses are from the ESV.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Why Jehovah's Witnesses Are Not A Threat To Me

    You know the familiar scene. It's Saturday morning and the knocks come on the door. A couple of women are at your door when you open up. They tell you they are from the Watchtower Society. You want to shut the door on them because you know that they are there to pressure you into joining the Watchtower Society, which you really don't want to do, and for good reasons.
  Jehovah's Witnesses believe they are saved by doing good works. Actually, they say they don't believe in hell, but sometimes they seem to indicate that those who aren't Jehovah's Witnesses will go there. They believe in a couple of different forms of heaven, and that heaven will be on earth. They hope to partake of heaven and believe that they must do good works to get there or be part of it. Coming to your door brings them Brownie Points with God, in their thinking.
   Jehovah's Witnesses are trained to give pat answers to your objections. They are not encouraged to do their own research of the Bible, but they get all their Biblical authority and understanding from their governing body.
   Anyone who has studied apologetics could easily throw them off and have them leave. But there is another way to help them understand that you aren't going to join their club. That is, to explain to them that in order for you to believe in their theology, you would have to undo the work of God that has been done in your heart. When you were born again, the Holy Spirit came to live inside of you. Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in the Holy Spirit as part of the Godhead. They do not understand that a person who is born again, is a new creature in Christ, and all sin is forgiven and God's grace is in that person actively working with the sanctification process.
    Jehovah's Witnesses believe in their doctrine. They have a head knowledge of what they believe in. But what they believe in doesn't affect them personally. They do not have a personal God changing them. Their head knowledge doesn't affect their hearts. They don't have a relationship with God, because they have never trusted in the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse them from sin.
   If you are born again and a new creature in Christ, for you to adapt the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses, you would have to undo the work of God that has been done in your heart. You would have to deny the Holy Spirit because their doctrine rejects the Holy Spirit as deity. You would have to deny the deity of Christ because they also do not believe that Jesus is God in the flesh.
   So, the next time you talk to a Jehovah's Witness, you can tell them that in order for you to join up with them, you would have to give up all the things God has given to you, because of the sacrifice that Jesus provided for us. The work of God cannot be undone, so therefore, you are safe from them.
   So, rather than trying to get rid of them quickly, just share the greatness of your God with them. Give them highlights of your testimony and explain to them what God has done for you. If you are not born again yet, and would like more information, please go to http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com or http://test4gp.wordpress.com   
You don't have to be afraid of these people.
Their false beliefs will not undo what God has
already done in your heart.